Yellow Cake Gone Bad... Why?

Decorating By Dr_Hfuhruhurr Updated 12 Mar 2014 , 9:43pm by Danilou

Dr_Hfuhruhurr Posted 27 Feb 2014 , 7:10pm
post #1 of 12

Hey all,

 

So, after fiddling around with buckets of recipes over the last few years, looking for my favorite yellow cake, I thought I had finally decided that Syliva Weinstock's Classic Yellow Cake (old version) was the way to go. I'd made it a few times, always with great success, and it was incredibly popular at our 2013 Christmas party. It's light and springy, but also rich. I even like how the top gets a little "crunchy" during baking, like a pound cake.

 

BUT...

 

I'm making a cake for my niece's birthday party on Friday, and the two layers of yellow cake I baked for one of the tiers were a complete mess. I have no idea how it happened. Same recipe I've used before, but it was awful. The cakes barely rose at all, and the tops were actually sort of lumpy. Also, no buttery/"crunchy" top--it was very dry and firm to the touch. The oddest thing, though, was the consistency of the cake interior.  Rather than a normal cake crumb, it was very, very dense.  Not necessarily dry, as it still tasted sort of moist, but DENSE. 

 

My wife described it as "too eggy," but I think a better description would be something like baked bread--or even, more accurately, a biscuit.  If you can imagine the inside of a buttermilk biscuit, that's what the inside of these cakes looked like. The cakes also fell right out of the pans when I turned them, which is unusual for me.  I do a good job of greasing my pans, but I still expect a little bit of stickage.  These cakes were just bone dry around the outside edges and bottom, like a loaf of sourdough dusted with flour. If I didn't know any better, I'd assume that I forgot liquid from the recipe--it's like the cake was missing all the fat. But I do know better--I mixed this thing right, and I cooked it just as long as I normally do.

 

Anybody ever experience anything like this?  I'd like to just try again, but I'd rather figure out what went wrong first, so I can stop wasting ingredients.

 

Thanks!

11 replies
sadiep Posted 27 Feb 2014 , 7:54pm
post #2 of 12

sorry I'm not familiar with the recipe - is it a regular creaming method cake (butter sugar first)? Or a reverse method (all dry ingredients in mixer, then ad butter, then eggs and liquid) ?

Dr_Hfuhruhurr Posted 27 Feb 2014 , 8:04pm
post #3 of 12

It's a regular creaming method. Butter and sugar, then egg yolks, vanilla. Next, dry ingredients alternating with sour cream. Finish by folding in egg whites.  The full recipe can be found here:

 

http://bakeoutsidethebox.blogspot.com/2012/01/sour-cream-yellow-cake.html

MBalaska Posted 27 Feb 2014 , 8:11pm
post #4 of 12

Interesting as I have an older copy of the same recipe however it calls for a cup of milk, not a cup of sour cream.

Dr_Hfuhruhurr Posted 27 Feb 2014 , 9:40pm
post #6 of 12

Thanks for the tip, I'll try that!

MBalaska Posted 28 Feb 2014 , 12:44am
post #7 of 12

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dr_Hfuhruhurr 
 

It's a regular creaming method. Butter and sugar, then egg yolks, vanilla. Next, dry ingredients alternating with sour cream. Finish by folding in egg whites.  The full recipe can be found here:

 

http://bakeoutsidethebox.blogspot.com/2012/01/sour-cream-yellow-cake.html

 

This recipe is exactly the Sylvia Weinstock recipe from her book 'Sweet Celebrations'.

So that's another resource for you to look into for tips to make her cake.

Dr_Hfuhruhurr Posted 11 Mar 2014 , 5:09am
post #8 of 12

AIf anyone remains curious, I figured out the issue. Tried the recipe again this weekend, but this time paid very close attention to the process. Turned out, when the cake failed, I was using a different source for the recipe that I hadn't used before--all the ingredients and steps were the same, but the recipe had listed weights (in grams) for the flour and sugar. Whenever a recipe supplies the weights, I use those, and in this case it was my downfall. The listed weights were completely off, so my dry ingredients were not in the right amounts. I only had half the necessary sugar, and way more flour than necessary.

Not sure how the info on that particular site got the weights wrong, but at least I found the culprit!

Danilou Posted 11 Mar 2014 , 10:06am
post #9 of 12

ADid it turn out the second time? I've made this cake twice and both times it was so dense, flat and heavy. I would love to see a pic of what it is supposed to look like. I have heard from a lot of ppl here that it is a finicky recipe.

Rfisher Posted 11 Mar 2014 , 12:53pm
post #10 of 12

AIMO it is not a finicky recipe. But for Sylvia's camp to come out later with a "new" version with the only difference being an additional cup of milk, and the ginger i think, it's crazy. To me, it boils down to how one person measures flour/sugar vs another. That's the only way one person can have a great cake without the cup of milk, and another can have the same result with the cup of milk. Can personal tastes differ that much from one person to another? One more vote for weights in recipes. I understand the hurdles authors/ publishers must go through to do a cookbook in weights, but really....if the author can put "use the dip and sweep method" somewhere in the book, they can surely put "for these recipes, a cup of cake flour weighs ....." My kids do not understand why I do the same recipe different ways & write notes in my cookbooks....after all those years of [B]don't write in that book!!![/B] ha! To the OP, I'm glad you got it figured out, how frustrating! Did you let the source know? Or do you think it was their "slightly adapted version"?

Dr_Hfuhruhurr Posted 12 Mar 2014 , 5:04pm
post #11 of 12

Quote:

Originally Posted by Danilou 

Did it turn out the second time? I've made this cake twice and both times it was so dense, flat and heavy. I would love to see a pic of what it is supposed to look like. I have heard from a lot of ppl here that it is a finicky recipe.

 

It turned out great the second time, yes.  If you're ending up with a dense, flat or heavy cake, there must be something amiss--maybe something similar to my failed attempt?  I agree with Rfisher, below, that it might just come down to how you measure your dry ingredients. For the cake flour, I sift first, and then measure by scooping the sifted flour into the cup. A little time-consuming, but it guarantees I'm not inadvertently adding too much flour (and I think this cake is very sensitive to the amount of flour used).

 

I'm sure I will be making the cake again soon (it really is my favorite yellow cake, when it works), and I will upload a picture of the cake to this thread so that you can see it. I will also take note of the exact weight for the dry ingredients, which might help you out (and will certainly help me out in the future--so much faster).

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rfisher 

IMO it is not a finicky recipe. But for Sylvia's camp to come out later with a "new" version with the only difference being an additional cup of milk, and the ginger i think, it's crazy. To me, it boils down to how one person measures flour/sugar vs another. That's the only way one person can have a great cake without the cup of milk, and another can have the same result with the cup of milk. Can personal tastes differ that much from one person to another? One more vote for weights in recipes. I understand the hurdles authors/ publishers must go through to do a cookbook in weights, but really....if the author can put "use the dip and sweep method" somewhere in the book, they can surely put "for these recipes, a cup of cake flour weighs ....." My kids do not understand why I do the same recipe different ways & write notes in my cookbooks....after all those years of don't write in that book!!! ha!
To the OP, I'm glad you got it figured out, how frustrating! Did you let the source know? Or do you think it was their "slightly adapted version"?

 

You know, I didn't let the source know, but that's a good idea. I err against being critical, but it would be helpful advice for them (and for others that visit the site). I have not yet tried Sylvia's recipe with the "new" cup of milk.  The cake comes out so great without any milk that I can't imagine what benefit the milk could add. I think I did try a variation once that had 1/4 milk added, but that resulted in a slightly gooey center.

Danilou Posted 12 Mar 2014 , 9:43pm
post #12 of 12

AThat would be great. In Australia I believe our cake flour is processed differently and I don't think it's bleached, not the brand I use anyway so resulting it a slightly higher gluten content. I usually try and sift into the cup (if required) and take into account that in U.S your cups are slightly smaller than ours. I found a conversion chart here on c.c and used it to make the scott woolley chocolate fudge cake and it turned out perfect!!! After 2-3 days it tastes absolutely beautiful, much better than the epicurious double layer chocolate cake I normally use. Another thing I've learnt with my kenwood mixer it to start off with slightly chilled butter as it can get to melting point quite quick when beating. I would love to nut out this recipe as some people absolutely rave about it. I usually make the cake love yellow cake, but still feel that something is missing.

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%